AAMI News May 2018
HTM Professionals Recognized for Going Above and Beyond
Supporting and maintaining healthcare technology in hospitals can often go unnoticed, which is why AAMI and its Technology Management Council designated the third week in May as Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) Week. This annual celebration promotes awareness of—and appreciation for—the critical work of biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs), clinical engineers, and other members of the HTM field.
For the past several years, AAMI has asked members of the HTM community to nominate exemplary professionals as part of its HTM Week celebration. This year, we received a deluge of emails touting the laudable performance and leadership of HTM professionals across the country—far more than we could include in this issue. Some will be highlighted in next month’s AAMI News, but you can read about all of those who are going above and beyond to help patients and others in their organizations on the HTM Week web page.
For now, though, here is a handful of the HTM professionals whose expertise, energy, and dedication to the field inspires their supervisors and peers.
His business card might say “biomedical equipment support specialist,” but according to his team, Andrew Aiken is “the quarterback,” providing them with leadership and direction.
“Andrew is the most valuable player of the clinical engineering team at the VA Southeast Louisiana Health Care System Medical Center in New Orleans,” said Aiken’s supervisor, Kristen Russell, a chief biomedical engineer with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “Andrew has a work ethic that is unparalleled. He works more efficiently than anyone in the HTM community that I know, he works longer hours than anyone in the HTM community that I know, and with those two combined, he is unmatched by his peers and frankly by many above him.”
According to Russell, without Aiken’s intense commitment to the VA and its mission, the department’s newest 1.2-million-square-foot facility would not have opened on schedule.
“Andrew is the epitome of a ‘go-to guy’ and requires absolutely zero follow up. He is a team player, a customer pleaser, and a supervisor’s dream,” Russell raved. “We could all stand to learn a thing or two from Andrew: Our patients come first, the work isn’t done until it’s done, and there are no such things as excuses.”
After 28 years in the Clinical Engineering Department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) and as one of the department’s first certified biomedical engineers, John Ball has established himself as the “alpha tech.”
“John is one of our most experienced and highly skilled technicians. He is methodical and calculated in his approach, which is why John is trusted with our most critical equipment,” said Rodger Abbott, CCHMC clinical engineering lead technician.
Ball recently was certified by the National Council on Laser Certification and has used those skills to completely restructure and reenergize CCHMC’s laser safety program, according to Abbott. Ball also has worked “tirelessly” with the medical center’s infection control officer to establish disinfection, monitoring, and water-change procedures to control the growth of nontuberculous mycobacteria in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory.
“John’s greatest attribute is his ability to quietly dispense wisdom, leaving each individual with the feeling that they are a bit wiser, a bit more caring, and a bit more capable,” Abbott said.
According to colleagues, Aaron Bridgewater does whatever it takes to get the job done. As the clinical engineering team leader for TRIMEDX based in Anchorage, AK, that often means traveling from village to village in the Yukon on four-seat airplanes in extreme environmental conditions.
“At times, the temperature can drop to –40°F with 24 hours of darkness, and yet Aaron continues with his job, committed to doing his best with a positive attitude,” said Tom Vasquez, TRIMEDX’s director of clinical engineering.
Traveling through such extreme conditions often leaves Bridgewater stranded in one of TRIMEDEX’s 52 Yukon village clinics. Sometimes he can be stuck there for several days, sleeping on the clinic’s floor in a sleeping bag or on the clinic’s exam table and eating food he has packed because there often are no stores.
“Despite these conditions, Aaron continues to love what he does, cares about the customers and the patients, and is committed to doing his best,” Vasquez said. “I know of no one else who sacrifices as much as Aaron to get the job done.”
Jovito “Jojo” Gonzales
Jovito Gonzales, or “Jojo” to everyone who works with him, is the “quintessential biomedical technician” and “has demonstrated professionalism and leadership above and beyond his formal position,” according to colleagues.
As the lead biomedical technician for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, CA, Gonzales was a key leader during two recent ransomware attacks, ensuring the safety and protection of patients’ protected health information, and was instrumental to the opening of Kaiser’s brand-new San Diego Central Medical Center.
“Jojo is a natural and respected leader and has performed an outstanding job in operationalizing a new state-of-the-art medical facility here in San Diego,” said Michael Parris, assistant administrator of facilities operations and capital programs for Kaiser Permanente’s San Diego service area. “As part of this commissioning effort, he brought together, organized, and fine-tuned a new Clinical Technology Department,” which included deploying more than 7,000 pieces of medical equipment and providing mentorship and training for a group of new BMETs.
Gonzales is “deeply committed to the development of new technician talent,” according to former colleague Carol Davis-Smith, president of Carol Davis-Smith & Associates, LLC, “as demonstrated through his daily work ethic, support, and leadership within local biomed societies, and postings to wide-reaching media, such as LinkedIn.”
Whether the issue is big or small, Angela Grecco, a senior biomedical technician for Christiana Care Health System in Newark, DE, has it covered.
“Angela is the sort of person you can count on from the easiest little ‘I have been looking around our 1,000-bed hospital and can’t seem to find a few small missing patient monitors, will you keep an eye out for them?’ and then she finds them, to project lead for a multimillion-dollar house-wide telemetry replacement project implementing an entirely new line of wireless devices and their network infrastructure to improve the quality of patient care,” said John Learish, Christiana Care’s clinical engineering manager.
Perhaps most importantly, according to Learish, Grecco “worked tirelessly” to fix an infusion pump interoperability issue. To accomplish this, she helped with wireless testing, set up the drug libraries, replaced the network interface cards when necessary, and minimized safety events related to infusion pumps throughout the hospital.
“Angela routinely shifts her schedule to work around the needs of the hospital’s departmental staff,” Learish said. “She does all of this while mentoring and helping her colleagues and remaining a positive personality and shining example of ‘what good looks like.’”
Before Aaron Predum arrived in Honolulu nearly two years ago to take over as the director of biomedical engineering for Hawai’i Pacific Health, the system’s various biomed departments rarely collaborated, according to W. Keoki Fujinaka, supervisor of biomedical engineering at Pali Momi Medical Center.
Predum immediately changed the system’s culture by organizing weekly team conference calls with all the biomedical engineering departments and implementing a quarterly luncheon to encourage a “team atmosphere.”
“With the increased familiarity with each other, we were not hesitant to contact techs from other hospitals for assistance, which increased our efficiency and accessible knowledge,” Fujinaka said.
Fujinaka also credits Predum with demonstrating to the administration that more help was needed at each facility and “delivering the budget for more techs.” With these resources, Predum was able to create Fujinaka’s supervisory position, as well as two other much-needed positions that did not exist in the system before: a specialist dealing with biomed Internet security and a contract administrator.
“The positive changes that Aaron has been able to initiate are a testament to his abilities as a leader and advocate for our department,” Fujinaka said.